Dean Mootz's Letter to Alumni about State of Law School
July 10, 2013
Text of letter
Dear McGeorge Alum,
One of the most important functions of this newsletter is to provide timely information about the status of the law school. Last week we announced a restructuring of the law school staff as part of our effort to rescale the law school to an appropriate size given the rapid changes in the legal profession. I discussed some of these plans at alumni events during the past year, but some of you may be learning about them for the first time from recent news stories. In this short message I want to summarize our efforts to ensure that we continue our proud tradition of educating excellent lawyers.
As you know, employment prospects for lawyers have been declining each year, and there has been a corresponding severe drop in applications to law school. Virtually every law school is making adjustments, and many are cutting the size of their entering class to match the demand for a legal education. Beginning in 2009 we recognized the need to rescale, but we did not anticipate how quickly we would have to act. We are now transitioning from a total enrollment of 1,000 plus students to approximately 600 students (in two day sections, and one evening section), and so we will require a smaller staff and faculty. Our realignment largely has been achieved voluntarily, through incentive plans designed to promote retirements and voluntary separation. Unfortunately, during the first week of July it was necessary to lay off nine full-time and one part-time member of our staff to match the new administrative structure. We are confident that we are the appropriate size for a law school, and that our staff will continue to provide our students with excellent service.
As we rescale the law school, we simultaneously are reorienting our offerings to the new legal economy. We want to ensure that McGeorge attorneys are well-prepared for the demands of contemporary practice, and so we have instituted new experiential learning requirements, a series of one-credit courses that focus on advanced topics, and we are undertaking fundamental curricular reform in the coming year. Additionally, we are initiating a Master of Science in Law degree program for those professionals who require some legal expertise but never intend to practice law. This initiative will be particularly relevant as we renew our close ties with the capital region through our Capital Center for Public Policy.
We also are reorienting the Sacramento campus to serve as a graduate campus that offers synergistic degree programs in law, business and policy. Our goal is to provide our students with a broader array of courses that better prepare them for the emerging employment market. By housing multiple graduate degree programs that complement each other, the Sacramento campus will be an innovative professional training ground.
I want to emphasize that the law school has the full and unwavering support of the University as we undertake these important initiatives, and we are all committed to ensuring that McGeorge continues to educate superb lawyers. As we rescale the law school and reorient the Sacramento campus, we will be renewing the 90 year-old spirit of McGeorge to meet the demands of today. My firm belief is that if we aren't innovating to address the challenges of today, we won't be adequately preparing our students for the future. McGeorge is moving forward decisively. The future is today. I look forward to sharing more details about our plans.
Francis "Jay" Mootz III
Dean and Professor of Law